Newsletter July 2020
As we are fast approaching the end of the academic year in this unprecedented time for schools in general and Woodlands Meed in particular, we thought would review the last year and look forward to next, dealing with:
- End of the year
- Thanks to Staff
- What is facing us in September
- College Building Update
- Contact Us
This is a long message – please read to the end !
End of the Year
This time of year is traditionally a rite of passage for those students transitioning from school to college and from college to their new placements. The Covid situation has made this a rather different experience, although the school has done everything possible to support students and at the same time still have fun. We are looking forward to the on line Disco Prom.
We wish every student moving to a new class well. You can be confident you will receive plenty of help and support as you get used to your new surroundings.
For those students leaving the College, please keep in touch. We are very interested in your progress and how you are getting on. You are Woodlands Meed ambassadors and we are proud of you all.
It is impossible to simply list the people who have worked over and beyond the call of duty during this period and will continue to do so next year. So our profound thanks to Adam and his whole team – you have been amazing. It is not just the Woodlands Meed family they have supported:
the “Back to School” video was circulated to all schools in West Sussex as an example of good practice;
staff provided parcels for those affected initially by the food voucher fiasco and subsequently are continuing community support:
home lessons and support designed and created by Woodlands Meed staff for our pupils have been shared with mainstream schools in the area to support their SENCOs.
We are going to continue to rely on you in the “new normal” or whatever we are facing next year.
The governors would also like to thank parents for their help and support. A number of our governors have children with special needs, and we do understand the stress and problems of looking after your youngsters without the usual support, which has largely gone unremarked in the wider world.
Adam and his team are working hard on detailed plans on how to open the college safely and will update everyone in the usual way. Just a reminder that updates are also all posted on the school website.
Frankly, we do not know what is facing us in September, as the situation changes weekly, if not daily. You can be confident however, that at Woodlands Meed, Adam and his team will be proactive, innovative and supportive.
Planned work will continue during the holidays on the buildings, to ensure they remain up to their present high standard and will be safe and clean for our students.
We will continue to monitor school and college numbers and also progress of the WSCC SEND Strategy.
College Building Update
We have continued to hold virtual meetings with WSCC officers and consultants. We are pleased to confirm that after negotiation for some weeks, we have been able to agree a schedule of accommodation which included the items we were advised by the school team were essential for the operation of the College.
Following the decision above the RIBA Stage One document was signed off at the Project Board Meeting on 6 July. However, it was accepted that the Governors had not agreed and approved the proposed sports facilities and external works.
As technically the new building will be on a “playing field”, Sports England are statutory consultees as part of the planning process and the consent of Secretary of State is required (s77 consent ).
It has been agreed that the Governors will work with the school sports team. Architects and Landscape Architects to create a scheme which will meet primarily meet the needs of our pupils and satisfy Sports England and s77. We are currently working on this report, taking specialist advice from various sporting organisations.
These external works will form part of the RIBA Stage 2 design, and work will continue on this during the summer holidays.
The Governors made an initial approach to the section of the DfE dealing with s77 applications with a preliminary discussion about the circumstances. An informal view was expressed that the s77 consent should be readily provided and offer of assistance in forming the application made.
WSCC confirmed that all necessary surveys have been carried out so that the risk on costs is confined to any unknown situation disclosed on actually carrying out the work. Governors are currently reviewing the shelf life of all the surveys with time constraints which have been carried out to avoid the risks of any delays.
In parallel with this work, WSCC are finalising their procurement process, having changed their minds on the proposed framework twice to date. Governors are pressing for this decision, which will dictate how the planning and construction of the project moves forward.
We asked WSCC for a programme of proposed key dates which we could publish for parents and interested parties, giving a timescale for the Project. After pressing, this is the information we received on which we make no comment:
- Planning application: October 2020 to April 2021
- Planning decision expected: March 2021
- Handover: May 2023
So far as the Governors are concerned, every week taken up on the Programme is now costing a significant sum in the budgeted projected inflation costs, and we are pressing WSCC to abbreviate the generous time they have allowed themselves for “due process”, so that the building can be delivered just as soon as possible.
We understand that WSCC are preparing to set up a Website with details about the project, although the Governors have not received any information about this to date. Hopefully, it will not follow the Task and Finish Group and the previous WM Information page on WSCC website, both of which sank without trace.
We continue to keep the Chair and Vice Chair of the Scrutiny Committee advised with our views and concerns.
We are trying to keep Staff, Parents and Carers as informed and as up to date as we can. So just a reminder that you can contact us at any time if you have any queries (contact details on website) and we publish all our Building Updates on the school website.
We need another parent Governor
Whilst the new building tends to receive most publicity, the role of Governors is much wider. We continue to develop the strategy for the school moving forward from nursery level to post 19 provision; support the school team in their work towards becoming a national centre of excellence; monitor and support the school development plan; monitor the progress and targets for each and every one of our pupils from curriculum attainments to behaviour and conduct; formal teaching to life enrichment. We monitor financial performance to ensure the school is getting value for money and has sufficient resources to meet its needs. We attend specific training and make targeted school visits.
Like any organisation, it is important that we have new members who will bring a new perspective to our work. We know it is a big ask for parents who are already coping with work and looking after children with special needs, but we would very much welcome a new parent governor. If you are interested, or even think you MIGHT be interested please get in touch.
We wish you all a peaceful summer break and hope you have the opportunity to relax and recharge your batteries. The Governors will keep working on the new build, as there can be no delay on this.
Take Care; Be Safe
Governors of Woodlands Meed.